Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Another from The Witch series

                                             Drawing by Rima Staines
Nana
 
Her voice curdled milk, her words hatcheting
the air around us, as we sat, big contemplative
lumps around the TV. She, the antithesis of ennui,
couldn't see the cloud hanging over us.
Forget sympathy. Too many things needed doing, 
shadows and creepings everywhere.

She put hexes on our father, for making too little,
and spending too much at the gin mill,
gave our mother venomous handouts,
drove her ashen with vexation,
cleaned our filthy house,
breathing incantations, rag in hand,
poking around with the vacuum wand,
spraying us all with Windex, and condemnation.

Only the baby was innocent.
To babies she was a smoocher, a laugher,
all goodness and light. At two it was all over;
they turned rogue, like the rest of us.

No candy houses to tempt us into cooperation.
Only vinegar, spitfire, a daily poison mushroom
to toughen body and spirit, a list of standards
that flew like a flag from the rooftop,
and orders barked out by the hour,
with a minute hand’s patience.

If we didn’t jump, she was a stubby cyclone,
doing whatever it was herself, then calling us
names until we wanted to hurt her too,
to startle her into silence, until she threatened
to put her head in the oven unless we let up.

She pushed, and we pushed back, until she went
blind at the sight of us. Then we haunted her
like the ghosts we’d become, howling with
laughter as she went about her rituals, sewing
God knows what into our clothes, as she 
did the mending, stirring the steaming
cauldron, or wielding her broom.